See the love in Richard Gere’s eyes
What would otherwise be a fairly ordinary political rock track straight from the Manics factory lines is transformed into a quick-and-effective album bookend that perfectly nutshells everything Know Your Enemy is about because of simple productional tricks.
There’s so much going on in this track. Echoey synths that sound like filtered noise, practically hidden guitar tracks underneath all the synth fuzz (love those little melodies in the verse), a middle-eight that takes that synth fuzz to the max… the soundworld is completely filled. Freedom of Speech merges the dirty acoustic and dirty electric side of Know Your Enemy together, mixing some of the keyboard heavy production pieces of the album along with it. The lyrics are a bit crap when you just read them from the booklet but in the song they actually work. It’s a fuzzed-out, flipped-over protest song. Oh, and I just love the call-and-answer vocals on the verse.
And it just closes the album so perfectly. The album’s schizophrenic nature makes it so that it’d be really hard to close it properly because there’s practically no order in the chaos, so Freedom of Speech just takes the dodgy route of adding a quick 3 minute rocker that kinda comes from nowhere and ends pretty abruptedly, and works it like it means it. It just encapsulates Know Your Enemy so wonderfully in its sound and the abrupt ending fits the absurd tracklisting.
The band values it as well – it’s one of the very few Know Your Enemy songs to receive multiple live outings after the 2001 tour.